The Inconvenient Need To Belong by Paula Smedley – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

In the summer of 1953, twenty-year-old Alfie steals away from his troubled childhood home in London to start a new life in Exeter. His own life.

And at first it’s everything he ever dreamed it would be. For the first time in his life Alfie feels like he belongs.

Today, in a care home in the Midlands, eighty-six-year-old Alfie is struggling to come to terms with his dark past.

Alfie’s story is one of regret, the mistakes we make, and the secrets even the most unassuming of us can hold. But it is also a story about family, friendship, the things we should treasure and protect, and how the choices we make can shape our lives and the lives of others.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Every now and again I like to read a book that is a bit different and I’m so glad I chose to read this lovely novel. I found it to be one that made me think about the world a little differently.

Alfie is the main character in the novel, much of the story concerns his life in a care home. He is in his 80s, lonely, set in his ways and looks forward to his visits to the library on Wednesdays where he can write to his pen pal and the park on Saturdays where he chats to Fred. Only one of these activities is really allowed, his visits to the park are noticed by Julia, a care nurse, but she chooses to let him carry on.

The other part of the story concerns his life when he was much younger. The many mistakes he made, the people he loved and the family he left behind. He wasn’t an easy person to like, but I had a lot of sympathy for him. Especially towards the end of the novel when I realised how lonely he felt. 

It wasn’t a book that had me in floods of tears but it was one that made me appreciate a lot what tales all those who live in a care facility have to tell. Their memories, good and bad. Reading the letters exchanged with his pen pal and reading about his meetings with Fred, I got to know the real Alfie. Not just the cantankerous, often unfriendly elderly man. 

A lovely story that I was very happy to read. 

My Sister, Myself by Jill Treseder – Blog Tour Review.

My Sister Myself Cover

About The Book

Hungary, 1956. Russian tanks brutally crush the revolution against the Communist regime. Sisters Katalin and Marika escape Budapest with their family and settle in London.

However, the past is not so easily left behind. Their father is a wanted man, and the sisters’ relationship hangs in the balance. Their futures are shaped by loss. For Katalin, this means the failure of her ambition and a devastating discovery; for Marika, an equally heart-breaking experience.

Caught between their Hungarian heritage and their new lives in Britain, the sisters struggle to reconnect. Family secrets are exposed, jeopardising Katalin’s and Marika’s identities.

Can their relationship survive war, division and grief?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Before I started reading My Sister, Myself I was under the impression it was auto biographical. Why, I have no idea, I must have misread the blurb. But all the way through, I couldn’t shake off that feeling, even though it is fictional.
I do know there were problems in some parts of Europe after WW2 but am ashamed to say I know nothing about what happened in Hungary. In the novel the things seen and described are through the eyes of a young girl. The things that somebody that age should never see, and they are things that an adult would struggle with.
Because of that I could forgive Katalin for some of her behaviour.
There are three narratives, Katalin, Marika and Klára, their Aunt. Klára has lived in Devon for years, a refugee from a different time. She was widowed in the war and was childless. Her life changes dramatically when she has to take in the two girls when they struggle with their new life in London.
There is so much that makes you think. The type of life they had in Hungary, followed by the way they were initially treated when they were refugees who couldn’t speak the language. Both girls made different choices, I was surprised the way they did. The one who I thought I would like more and who I thought would be more successful wasn’t. Much of the novel concerns their fractured relationship and I had a lot of sympathy for Klára who had to pick up all the pieces.
It’s a wonderful book that I am thrilled to be given the chance to read. It’s a book that is out of my comfort zone and possibly wouldn’t have heard about.

My Sister Myself Blog Tour Poster